toronto salt

People are already complaining of over-salting on Toronto streets and sidewalks

It's winter in Toronto once again, meaning along with miserably early sunsets and freezing temperatures, residents can prepare for a whole lot more snow than the sprinkling we've seen so far.

And with the snowfall inevitably comes ice, and with that, corrosive road salt that stains boots, burns doggo paws, and can even rust cars.

Though it's very much appreciated that the city ensures sidewalks and roadways are salted for pedestrian and driver safety in slippery conditions, it seems that sometimes, workers can go a little overboard with the salting — and a few days into December, people already have thoughts on the subject.

Citizens have been taking to social media ever since Toronto's first snowfall of the season to complain about city staffers' seeming lack of control when salting some areas, citing thick layers of the rocky chemical chunks long after the snow and ice has melted.

Though road salt is simply halite — the raw mineral form of sodium chloride, or table salt — it can often include anti-caking agents and other chemical additives, and throws off the balance of waterways and soil, along with being dangerous to animals and the environment in general when used in excessive quantities.

"In some urban streams, salt has reached levels high enough to kill organisms," writes the Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies in a special report on the material.

"However, lower than lethal levels can affect the ability of organisms to function, which impacts the overall health and function of the ecosystem."

It is for this reason, in part, that members of the public are worried about potential over-salting, along with the fact that it's just plain ugly to look at, hard to walk on, damaging to outerwear and a waste of city time and tax dollars when far too much of it is dispersed.

But, it's understandably tough to reach the perfect level between not enough and too much.

 According to a report from last month, the city spends $11 million or so dumping around 250 million pounds of rock salt on our roadways over the course of a typical winter — an absolutely staggering amount.

Hoping to get a response here in #TorontoDanforth from our local elected officials @peter_tabuns @paulafletcherto what our next steps are on combatting over use of destructive salt that leads into our #sharedwaters during the winter months HT @RAP_Toronto

According to Eric Holmes of Toronto Strategic Communications, the plan ensures proper training of salt distributers, features automated and specially calibrated applicators on trucks to ensure a proper amount of the stuff is doled out, and uses road temperature sensors to " ensure salt is only applied where necessary."

The city also actively uses other materials, like sand and salt brine, a liquid compound that leaves less salt on the road while still effectively removing ice and snow.

"The City is aware that use of rock salt on roads is associated with negative environmental impacts and City staff work to reduce those impacts as much as possible by actively managing salt use," Holmes told blogTO, adding that citizens also have to do their best to make sure they aren't using too much salt on their own private property.

"Residents who are concerned about the amount of salt used on the sidewalk or road can notify 311 and file a service request. The City also reminds private contractors and residents, when necessary to keep routes safe for people, to use an appropriate amount of salt. This information is usually available on the packaging or from the salt manufacturer."

As we enter the chilly time of year, make sure to watch where you step and to invest in some protective booties for your furry friends if walking them on sidewalks and roads.

And as for the salt stains? A mix of equal parts white vinegar and water will do the trick.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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